Flu Empties Classrooms Countywide

December 22, 1991|By Samuel Goldreich | Samuel Goldreich,SUN STAFF

The bill came due for an Indian summer in December last week when thousands of county students called in sick.

Some schools reported absentee rates of 20 percent as the flu season struck, said Al Seymour, of the Board of Education Thursday.

"The flu season is very erratic. You never know when" it will hit, he said.

The flu outbreak seemed to strike county schools first on Dec. 13, when six of the county's 44 schools reported absentee rates higher than 10 percent.

Prospect Mill Elementary was hardest hit on the 13th, as 18 percent of its 957 students stayed home. This past week, absentee rates there dropped to about 11 percent, said Cynthia Boutin, the school's registered nurse.

The wave of nausea, sniffles and headaches spread across the county last weekend.

At Churchville Elementary, the absentee rate never dropped below 13 percent from Dec. 13 to Wednesday.

The bug reached its peak Monday and Tuesday at Edgewood high and middle schools, where 20 percent of the students called in sick.

Schools have not reported unusual numbers of teachers and staff staying home due to illness. There seems to be no threat of flu shutting down the school system, as happened last monthin Nashville, Tenn.

Seymour said he doubts the flu strain is the "Winter Break Bug," conveniently timed to coincide with the holiday that began Friday.

"For the most part, we have very good attendance," he said.

The county's primary schools attendance rate of 95.2 percent last year exceeded the state standard of 94 percent. But Harford's secondary school record came up short at 93 percent.

By the time students return to class Jan. 2, the flu outbreak should have passed, Seymour said.

"Usually, it takes three to five days," he said.

SCHOOLS WITH HIGHEST ABSENTEE RATES DURING FLU SEASON

School.. .. .. .. .. Absentee rate.. ..(Date).. ..Enrollment

Edgewood HS.. .. .. .. .. .. ..20%.. .(12/16).. .. .. .. 985

Edgewood MS.. .. .. .. .. .. ..20%.. .(12/17).. .. .. .. 858

Bel Air MS.. .. .. .. .. .. .18.7%.. .(12/17).. .. .. .1,094

Prospect Mill ES.. .. .. .. ..18%.. .(12/13).. .. .. .. 957

Norrissville ES.. .. .. .. .. .17%.. .(12/13).. .. .. .. 201

Abingdon MS.. .. .. .. .. .. 16.1%.. .(12/17).. .. .. .1,113

Aberdeen HS.. .. .. .. .. .. 15.5%.. .(12/16).. .. .. .1,057

Fallston HS/MS.. .. .. .. .. 15.4%.. .(12/17).. .... .1,201

Youth's Benefit ES.. .. .. .. .15%.. .(12/16).. .. .. .1,238

William S. James ES.. .. .. .. 15%.. .(12/16).. .. .. .. 647

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